Trust me, there’s nothing more intimidating than a machine that might snap back and whack you in the teeth, causing permanent damage to your mouth as you feel out your new chipped tooth with your tongue.
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Add on the potential to look like a slob who’s never been to a gym in his life, then it’s understandable why one might want to avoid the cable machine, but trust me – it’s worth it!
A study done in Experimental Gerontology, a journal about aging and age-related diseases, found that cable training increases neuromuscular function (which can slow down the aging process).
That’s why it’s a great idea to work some cable movements into your muscle-building routine!
So if you want to learn how to use the cable machine at Planet Fitness like a pro so you can build muscle and avoid embarrassment… keep reading.
How to Correctly Use the Cable Machines
First off, before you even approach the cable machines, you have to know what attachments to use for this piece of equipment. Near the cable machines, there should be a stand with cable attachments.
There you will find:
- Triceps ropes
- Lat pulldown bars
- Curl bars
- Triceps bars
- Double D-handles
- Resistance-band handles
Choose the best attachment for your exercise and then head onto the cable machine.
Most Planet Fitness cable machines have different sides to them:
- A free-standing side.
- A side with a bench and feet platforms.
- A side with a stool or bench and knee-height foam rollers.
Choose which side most suits your needs with your attachment in hand. Remember, if you need the free-standing side for its pulley adjustability but also need to be seated/inclined, you can always drag an adjustable bench to it.
Adjusting the Machine (and Weight Increments)
Before you attach the attachment to the carabiner–or the hook thing, as I like to call it–you should adjust everything to your liking. Chances are the side with attachments has the height of the cable locked in, but the free-standing side is and the weights on all sides are adjustable.
To adjust the machine:
- Pull the yellow lever attached to the pulley.
- Drag the pulley to the desired height.
- Let go of the lever at the nearest hole closest to the desired height. (It’ll probably make a clicking sound and should no longer move if you try to tug it in either direction.)
- Go to the weight stacks by your side.
- Take out the pin and place it in the hole corresponding to the desired weight.
- Attach the cable attachment.
- Do a few test reps.
- Adjust accordingly for your comfort.
And there it is, you are ready to exercise.
Types of Grips
But before you exercise, think about what type of grips you’ll use. There are three types of grips:
- Neutral grip or palms facing each other
- Overhand grip or pronated grip
- Underhand grip or supinated grip
There are also two types of positions:
- Wide grip (wider than your shoulders)
- Narrow/close grip (narrower than your shoulders)
- Something in between
Different grip positions can lead to different results. For example, a study done in 2005 published found that during flat bench presses, a supinated, or underhand grip, resulted in increased activity for parts of the biceps and pecs.
3 Exercises to Do on the Planet Fitness Cable Machine
1. Kneeling Cable Crunches
A kneeling cable crunch works your abs. It also might get your knees dirty, so make sure you bring a mat for this one.
To do a kneeling cable crunch:
- Attach a triceps rope to the carabiner.
- Adjust the height so it’s near the top of the cable machine.
- (Optional) Place the mat on the floor not too near or far from the machine.
- Holding the triceps rope and facing the machine, kneel.
- Bring your hand, and consequently the rope, next to your head.
- Do a crunch until your elbows are at thigh level.
- Pause for a second.
- Slowly lift your head and torso near the starting position.
- You should feel all your abs as you crunch. If you don’t, you might be too far or too near to the machine. Adjust your position accordingly.
- Bring your chin in.
- Your arms shouldn’t be doing the work. Make sure the only thing moving the rope is the strength of your abs.
- Your back shouldn’t be straight as you crunch.
2. Seated Cable Rows
The seated cable row is already set up on most Planet Fitness cable machines. Just plop yourself on the side with the bench and foot platform and the rest is simple.
- Choose either a double D-handle or a straight bar attachment.
- Attach it to the carabiner.
- Sit at the cable machine with your feet on the feet platform.
- Keep your knees slightly bent and your chest out.
- Pull the handle towards your lower abdomen while maintaining a straight back, chest still back out.
- Slowly stretch back out, still gripping the handle.
If you want more of an arm workout, the double D-handle is the way to go. If you want more of a back workout, then a wide straight-bar attachment is the way to go.
Pro tip: Consider stacking this exercise with the back extensions machine at Planet Fitness for a killer back day workout!
3. Cable Fly
The cable fly involves two nearby cable machines with free-standing sides facing each other. The cable fly is usually good for your chest, mainly your pecs.
- Adjust the two pulleys to equal height, both above head height.
- Attach the resistance-band handles to the carabiners.
- Adjust the weights on the two cable machines to your liking.
- Grab one handle in one hand and the other in your hand.
- Edge a little forward until you feel a little resistance.
- Take a step forward and lean into the step.
- Bring the two handles together in front of your chest while squeezing said chest.
- Slowly relax and let the resistance bring your hands back to starting position.
Note: When you’re done with your exercise, don’t let the handles go. Go to one cable machine and let go of the handle when it’s close to the pulley, then go to the other machine and do the same.
You do not want to let go of the handle and have it snap back into some poor unsuspecting passerby’s face.
The cable machines at Planet Fitness are sure to offer you a challenge where few other pieces of equipment can. If you’re new to the gym or just want some direction, be sure to adjust your weight and increments before starting so that they match your experience level.
Consider the grip you use for each exercise too. A supinated grip tends to activate the biceps more than a pronated grip that targets the lats a little better.
And even though we only covered kneeling cable crunches, seated cable rows, and cable flyes, there are plenty of other great exercises to try. So do your research and experiment!
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